History

Temple Emanuel is the oldest Reform Congregation in Montgomery County. It was formally organized with 28 member families in August 1952, and affiliated with the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now Union for Reform Judaism) in March 1953. Temple Emanuel engaged Rabbi Leon Adler as its first full-time rabbi in July 1953, and he continued to serve the congregation until his death 35 years later. In 1988, Temple Emanuel installed its second spiritual leader, Rabbi Warren Stone. In 1958, after a successful capital campaign, the first stage of our present building was completed on our five acre site, just south of the Kensington town line.

With expansions and renovations in 1974, 2002, 2008, and again during the summer of 2011, we completed the building you see today. Our goals were to meet the needs of our congregation for spiritually inspiring worship space, for lifelong learning, and for building a welcoming and caring community. We also incorporated our concerns for the environment in our plans and construction. One of our innovations is a solar powered Ner Tamid (eternal light). We also made certain that every part of our building and sanctuary is accessible to those in wheel chairs or with physical disability so we can indeed practice our values as a caring community.

Our Leon Adler Sanctuary, named in memory of our first Rabbi, has won national recognition, with its large windows opening onto natural surroundings and the embodiment of its theme, the ancient image of the Tree of Life, the metaphor for Torah. Under the leadership of Rabbi Stone, a visionary leader for the environment, our Temple has been recognized as a green Temple and it has been given the Green Menorah Award.

In worship, we use the Reform prayer book Mishkan T’filah, which gives new spiritual content to our services. Every Shabbat morning, there is lay-led Torah and Tanach study preceded by a Minyan.

The Temple offers opportunities to share both joys and sorrows. We celebrate together baby namings, consecrations, B’nai Mitzvah, confirmations, weddings, and other life affirming events. We also join in consoling one another in times of illness and mourning.

Our building is a beehive of activity. On Sundays, our school-age children study in our Religious School, and adult congregants attend courses led by the Rabbi, Cantor, Educator, and outside scholars. On Tuesdays, following Hebrew School, our newly reorganized Upper School includes dinner followed by programming led by our clergy and senior staff. Adult learners also come together for enrichment; programs are offered on a varied schedule—weekdays, evenings, and weekends. The Early Childhood Center extends learning opportunities to our youngest members as well.

The congregation is in many respects a partnership between its members and its professional staff. Neither could function without the other. Volunteers serve on Temple committees dealing with the range of Temple activities: fund raising, publicity, the Religious School, the Early Childhood Center, buildings and grounds, religious services, adult education, social action, the Green Team, and others, as well as Women of Reform Judaism and the Temple Brotherhood. Our teenage members have access to their own youth lounge, and they participate in KESTY, our youth group. Whatever talents or interests you bring with you, there is a place for you in the Temple family.